Heavy rain in the Bronx last weekend

It rained all weekend long, from Friday night to Sunday night. I can’t remember the last time it rained this hard here. It reminded me of downpours in Georgia from when I lived there as a kid. The sound was comforting, even if the rain ruined our plans for the weekend.

Crown Coat Front Co. Inc., 105 E. 16th St. between Irving Place and Union Square

Photo taken in 2011.

The business was in operation from 1947 to approximately 1957 and produced coat fronts, which are defined “…by George E. Linton (The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1973) as [a] “Trade term for a built-up stiffening or shape-retaining interlining for the fronts of coats, made of stitched layers of haircloth, felt and canvas.””

For more information about the company and building, and as a reference for the above quote, please visit 14to42.net. There is a nice photo at that link of the same sign in 1986. The color was a lot sharper back then. I took this photo 12 years ago. I wonder if it’s even there anymore, and if it is, whether it’s legible at all.

An unfinished post about COVID-19 from April 1, 2020

This is something that I started writing on April 1st of 2020 but never turned into a full post. I think it was shortly after this that I started working full time for the 2020 Census and I got sidetracked. It’s nothing unusual, but still interesting to see what I was thinking about back then, during the height of the pandemic in New York City. Unsurprisingly, I was concerned about toilet paper.

Coronavirus Journal: Day 28 – Impact areas and hoarding in the city

People in poorer neighborhoods are being harder hit, but they’re also less likely to hoard.

Cheap toilet paper in stock. Everything isn’t being immediately wiped out. It’s amazing, because this area is one of the harder hit areas of the city. It’s an area where people are still boarding the train every day to head to work because they work in essential services. They’re being infected in the trains.

I live in one of the hardest hit areas in the city and the country for COVID-19 and I think it’s because most of the people that live in this area work in industries that kept going during the pandemic, so close contact in public transportation and at work kept transmission rates high.

According to current CDC data, transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths are down, despite people mostly giving up on masking and the lack of interest in booster shots. I imagine the numbers are trending downward because more people are developing some level of immunity. I’d also read previously that viruses tend to evolve into less lethal forms to ensure their own survival as well, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I have a feeling COVID-19 is going to be around for the long-haul now, like other serious illnesses. We’re going to have to figure out how to mentally accommodate that knowledge while we get back to living our lives.

Caught by the Willis Ave Swing Bridge

Two weeks ago, I was on my way home when I realized that the Willis Avenue Bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx is built to let ships through. It actually rotates on a central post, which is even more interesting than a drawbridge, and as annoyed as I was by the added travel time, at least I got to see something worthwhile.

An NYPD Highway Patrol (car 5525)

You see, I was already upset because I got caught in traffic on I-287 West in Brooklyn and I was 45 minutes behind on my trip home. I was very upset because I found out that the reason traffic was backed up and 45 minutes was added to my commute was because there was an NYPD Highway Patrol officer parked across two lanes of traffic… for nothing. No accident, no debris in the road. Nothing. He was just sitting there to sit there. Like a jackass.

Anyway, as I went up the ramp from the FDR to the bridge, I hit standstill traffic. Then I noticed the flashing lights and the crossing gates dropping into place to block traffic on both sides of the river. Gas is expensive and I figured I might as well utilize the opportunity to see something new (to me) and interesting, so I parked, walked over to the side of the ramp and watched for a while.

The Willis Ave Bridge rotating.

There was a small group of pedestrians and cyclists further up, gathering at the gates. I also noticed workers in orange vests on both ends of the bridge, as well as leaning out of a door in the central support structure below the bridge.

The barge being repositioned to be pushed through the gap.

The bridge rotated and a barge was moved through the opening with the help of a tug boat. Looking down from the on ramp, I saw that there was quite a bit of construction going on. I wonder what that’s all about, but I think it must have something to do with an extension of the Greenway around the island for jogging, cycling, and recreation. The city has been working on that project for quite a few years and one day I want to do a full circuit of the perimeter of the island. Not that I’ve ridden my bike any time recently, but one day.

A look south at the construction along the waterfront. The arm of the Triborough Bridge that connects with Manhattan is visible in the background.

I was still aggravated at the lost time, but at least I had a new experience to show for it. Most of the time, traffic in New York City is bogged down because of bad drivers that cause accidents, or broken down vehicles, which is more forgivable. But it seems so pointless sometimes, spending hours in traffic. At least there are audiobooks.

Optimum has competition in the Bronx now and I dropped them for Verizon FiOS

Does a NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 work with Verizon FiOS?

Short answer: yes, on the 300/300 plan, it works perfectly and gets max DL/UL speeds over WiFi. After the Verizon modem was activated by the service technician, I plugged in the Netgear router, and it picked up a new IP address and DNS settings after about 30 seconds. It’s been running without issue for ~4 days now.

Moving from Optimum to Verizon FiOS

When I moved into my current apartment in the Bronx, the only provider available was Optimum. Anyone that has used Optimum knows it’s not exactly a top tier service provider. I’ve had to talk to them on the phone about my billing repeatedly and with two exceptions, every person I’ve talked to has been rude, unhelpful, and sounded uneducated. It’s the McDonald’s of ISPs, but like most parts of the country, there was only one ISP available in my area and it was them.

Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Shortly after moving into my apartment, I registered my interest in having FiOS installed on Verizon’s website. I didn’t think it was going to take 5 years, but earlier this month Verizon technicians finally came and installed fiber optic lines in my building.

Not a moment too soon, either, because a few days later Optimum doubled my bill. Sometimes, a retail store will inflate the price of an item to three times what it should be and then (supposedly) mark it down to double its actual value and say it’s on sale. It’s a real scumbag practice and it’s illegal. Optimum is just like that; except they get away with it because people don’t have a choice. Or at least they didn’t. Competition means better prices for consumers, so I called up Optimum to see what they would offer to keep me as a customer.

I was expecting a deal of some sort and I would have been happy to pay a few dollars more than the $39.99 per month that Verizon was asking just to save the headache of having to switch providers and set up an installation appointment. Instead, I was badgered, insulted, and called a liar.

The Optimum retention employee that I spoke to told me that I was lying about Verizon being available in my building, lying about the plan speed Verizon was offering, and lying about the pricing. I really had to push back on him and tell him that he could verify what I’m saying himself through Verizon’s website if he wanted to. It was frustrating because he could have easily double-checked what I was saying without calling me a liar and making me question my own memory of what I had just done and looked at.

He then asked me to look at my bill so he could point out the supposedly amazing promotional credit I was getting that brought their inflated price down by $50. Then he asked me to look at the Optimum website where a $35.99 per month offer for 300/30 internet was being advertised. I asked him if he was planning to offer me the $35.99 per month to keep me as a customer and he said no, so I wasn’t sure what the point of showing that to me was other than to insult me. I ended the call.

The next day I called Verizon and completed the sign up through the web browser on my phone. The day after that Verizon came out and completed their installation in my apartment. The installation crew was fast, professional, and courteous. They were even on time and, prior to showing up, kept me updated via SMS so I would know when to expect them.

The service itself is great. I haven’t had any issues with buffering or high ping even during peak hours. The difference in page load speeds and gaming responsiveness is noticeable even though the plan’s download speed is the same. I think a lot of that has to do with the improved ping, which is half to a third of what I was getting with Optimum.

Verizon FiOS 300/300 speed test results from around 8 PM on a Monday night.

Keeping the Verizon plan cost down by using my own router

Verizon doesn’t charge a rental fee for their modems, but they do charge a router fee. Since I’m using my own router, a NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 that I bought 5 years ago, I get around that extra fee and our first bill came out to exactly $39.99 with autopay and paperless billing enabled. I was a little concerned about whether my router would work because there seems to be a lot of contrary content posted online, but I had absolutely no issues. After the Verizon modem was activated, I plugged in our router and within 2 minutes I had completed a speed test confirming that the service was working.

The NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 is a high-end router and I’m quite sure it could handle their Gigabit plan, though I’ll never need that kind of bandwidth. I almost got the higher plan just to have it, but we wouldn’t ever need it, so I figured there’s no reason to throw that money into the wind.

I feel pretty good about the value to cost ratio given what we use the internet for in our apartment. Plus, we have a stand-alone, no contract internet plan and, unless they have it hidden really well (I read through the billing and agreement), I’m not going to have to renegotiate the price with them every year like I had to do with Optimum. Fingers crossed.

Optimum offered the farm to keep me as a customer

I canceled our Optimum service yesterday after sitting with Verizon FiOS for a few days to make sure it’s stable and the retention rep and retention supervisor I spoke to offered me quite a bit to keep me as a customer. Their tone changed entirely when I said that I already had Verizon FiOS installed.

It makes me think that the first retention rep I spoke to really believed that I was lying, that I had no choice, and that he could talk to me any way he liked because I would have no recourse. Thinking about that made me even more upset about the situation and happier that FiOS is now available to us.

The retention supervisor offered me three months of free service as an apology for the way I was treated by the first retention rep and three additional months of free service to keep me as a customer (six months total), but it was already too late for that. Would you let someone talk to you like you are garbage and then roll over and accept it for a few months of free service? I have self-respect and dignity. And Optimum has competition now.

Jerome Ave Flooding Damage, January 2021 – Bronx, NY

A picture of the NYC Emergency Management Bus parked along the curb on 175th Street near Jerome Avenue

Living in the Bronx is exciting. You never know what you’re going to see when you go outside or even when you look out your window at 4 AM. For example, early last Thursday morning I saw a river where I expected to see an avenue.

4 AM Thursday Morning

A water main break at 175th Street was causing major flooding. The water main that broke was cast iron, 48″ across, and was installed in 1909. It’s kind of hard to believe that something installed in 1909 was still holding up considering all of the traffic that rolls across Jerome every day and the vibrations from the elevated 4 train. Maybe this will encourage local politicians to address the traffic issue in this area.

Jerome Avenue sits in a depression that I’ve always wondered about. Was it a river in the past that was converted into a roadway? Or just a natural valley? Regardless, it is now a major thoroughfare in the Bronx both for vehicles and for an elevated train line. That worked to funnel the water towards I-95, which sits at an even lower elevation and crosses under Jerome Ave a block away.

I can’t say I was completely unhappy to see the street flooding, even though I was worried about my car and the impact on local businesses that I frequent. This stretch of Jerome Avenue is usually filthy. It needed a good wash. It needs a second wash for good measure, but I don’t suppose that’s going to happen anytime soon. Maybe when the two new buildings that are going up are finished and new people and businesses start moving into the neighborhood? I have hopes that this section of the Bronx, being right on a train line and with quick access to two major highways, will be vastly improved over the next year or so.

Anyway, looking out of my window at 4 AM, I could see that the water was hip deep and rising. Cars parked along the avenue were already half-submerged. What I couldn’t quite figure out is why the water seemed to be so deep between 177th Street and 175th Street, but was almost completely absent from 175th Street down towards I-95. I could see emergency workers standing in the road there. The difference in elevation from one block to the next isn’t that severe.

Thursday Evening

Later that evening I went out to get groceries and to look around. Most of the businesses along that stretch were closed or people were using pumps to remove water from the basements. I could see people in El Gran Valle on the corner of 176th and Jerome looking around and shaking their heads like they were dealing with a lost cause.

The road itself was covered with mud and there were emergency work crews surrounding huge holes in the intersection of 175th Street and Jerome, in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts. A reporter, Naveen Dhaliwal from Channel 7 I think, was on the corner. It looked like she was getting ready for the following news segment:


People clearing damaged items out of businesses on Friday afternoon.

Today (Friday), more than 48 hours later, water was still being pumped out of the basements of businesses and workers at a church and bodega were hauling damaged equipment, furniture, and other odds & ends out to the curb for disposal. Between the physical and fire damage from the riots and this week’s flooding, the area is really taking a beating. I can’t help but wonder if the damage was done intentionally to try to clear out some of these businesses so that more new buildings can be erected.

One last thing I wanted to note. ConEdison has closed Jerome Avenue between 176th Street and 175th Street for repairs. Today, some overly clever clown got out of his car, moved the cones, and drove down Jerome anyway. He was forced to turn around both by ConEdison workers and by the lack of a road in the 175th Street intersection. People really are something else in the Bronx.

Dashcam Video – Driving in NYC during Thursday’s Snowstorm

About 44 minutes of dashcam footage of various parts of the city. Links to locations available in the video description on the YouTube page.

Last Thursday, I was out and about in the city, driving around. I run a dashcam, because you can really never be too safe. Plus, there’s always the chance that something consequential or bizarre will happen and get caught on camera.

I didn’t expect the snowstorm to be as bad as it turned out to be. The weather report predicted 1-3″ followed by warmer weather and rain that would basically wash the snow away. I found out later that we wound up getting about 6″ total, but I knew we were getting more than 3″ while I was out there in the street.

This was the first time I’ve ever driven around during a snowstorm. We had a lot of snowstorms last year, but I just left the car parked because we knew in advance it was going to be something I didn’t really want to drive around in. Not that driving around in the city is ever that much fun anyway, but you know what I mean.

I was pretty happy with how our 2017 Honda CR-V handled the snowy streets. I only lost traction two times. Once was because I braked too hard and slid up to a stop sign instead of decelerating towards it. The other time was when I was making the U-turn near the Governor’s Island Ferry to head north on the FDR. I was going just a little too fast.

But, I never got stuck, which is more than I can say for some other people out there on the road. Not that it’s really too different from usual, but people were driving really stupid out there on Thursday.

First of all, people in 2WD cars were out there driving. That’s pretty dumb to start with. I saw a guy pushing a car on the FDR that was stuck on an incline while the driver floored the accelerator. That sounds like a good way to have a car slide backward and crush you. Here he is:

Second, it seems that snow means that you have an obligation to block intersections on north-south avenues and prevent crosstown traffic from getting past you. My experience looked basically like this:

And, of course, people were cutting each other off, jumping between lanes, and speeding, as usual. I had a guy cut in front of me to make a left turn and just expected I would be able to stop as usual. I’m glad I have an AWD vehicle with tires that don’t suck.

Travel time in the city was insane. Looking at stuff on Twitter and in the news now (regarding the kids being stuck on school buses) it looks like most people were experiencing vehicle commutes that were 5 times longer than usual, like 5 hours instead of 1. And most of that pain was self inflicted. To all of you out there that were blocking intersections, I hope your cars throw a rod. Jerks.

Anyway, I left my car downtown and took the train home. I was home in about the same amount of time as it usually takes me to get to Union Square. And, thankfully, the city used some common sense and canceled ASP rules for Friday morning, so I didn’t have to rush back downtown to get my car. That wasn’t really the point of it, of course. It was to keep people from circling in that snowy crap Thursday night trying to find parking that was good for all of Friday.

So, I read that this winter is going to suck, basically, because of El Nino. It’s supposed to be ~8 degrees cooler than usual in January and February. It’s pretty cold right now, actually. A lot colder than usual, and we don’t normally get this kind of snow until January or February anyway. So it’s probably just going to be a bad winter season all around.

I need to get some winter cycling gear.

Traffic Congestion and Reckless Driving in New York City

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018. W 39th St. & 6th Ave in Manhattan, New York City.

I was traveling straight in the right-hand lane when a Yankee Trails bus (lic. plate 41944-PC, perhaps, the video is sort of blurry) made a right onto 6th Ave from the left-hand lane and cut me off. I had to turn hard to the right to avoid having the bus hit the front of my car and probably rip the front fender off or worse.

This is obviously a violation of traffic laws and is reckless driving. Bus drivers in NYC just don’t seem to care about other vehicles on the road. Even MTA buses often cut people off or swing hard into an adjacent lane without waiting for traffic to clear, running other vehicles into oncoming traffic or causing them to have to slam hard on their brakes.

It’s ridiculous and this type of driving is consistent and constant in New York City. It’s not just the buses, either. A lot of people in personal vehicles drive the same way.


Take this driver, for example:

Every so often, Pix11 or NY1 will post a story on Facebook about traffic congestion and commenters offer a slew of theories and complaints. Those complaints have mostly targetted For-Hire Vehicle services, but I don’t see removing all for-hire vehicles as a legitimate or even reasonable solution.

Are there a lot of For-Hire Vehicles in the city? Yes, because there are a lot of people that need and use them. Do they cause a lot of congestion? Not really. Not compared to traffic accidents caused by people who drive like that Yankee Trails bus driver, or the person on Westend Ave in the second video. Or like all of the double and triple-parked delivery vehicles during the day that bottleneck traffic on main avenues and side streets.

Traffic congestion sucks, but much of that pain is self-inflicted. Legislating that deliveries only occur at night would be a quick fix that would dramatically ease traffic congestion during the day. That lighter traffic would probably lead to less road rage/stupidity, which would lead to fewer accidents.

But, that’s an easy, smart fix for average New Yorkers that doesn’t pander to business interests. It also doesn’t create an opportunity for the city and state government to screw New Yorkers with another tax, which they’re introducing on all for-hire vehicles fares below 96th Street starting in January 2019, supposedly to supplement the MTA’s budget. Being real, it doesn’t make sense to tax an unrelated service to make up budget shortfalls in the MTA. Being more real, that money will probably just line pockets and by summer of 2019 the MTA will be crying for more cash and raising fares again. Is anyone really surprised, though?

What did Saipov actually accomplish with his truck attack?

Lower Manhattan Skyline

8 Dead as Truck Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan in Terror Attack

A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11.


I really don’t understand what the point of this was. If the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 had no lasting impact on New York City, then why run people over with a vehicle? Sure, I’m aware of the whole “we can strike at any moment, you can’t live your lives normally, woooaahahahah” plan, but does it really even work? Is anyone actually going to just shut their apartment door and never go outside again because of this attack? Is New York City going to come to a screeching halt? Of course not.

So really, what was the point of running over some bicyclists? About two dozen families have been directly affected. The rest of the city will pause for a few days and then continue moving. I don’t say that to downplay the scope of the tragedy for those families. Their lives will never be the same and my heart goes out to them. But, what was done wasn’t significant enough to change anything about how the average New Yorker goes about their day.

Furthermore, what was really the point of stepping out of a truck with a pellet gun and a paintball gun? Was this guy a moron or was he hoping to get martyred? Maybe that’s what this was really about. This guy was probably leading a mediocre life or felt like he was being treated unfairly in some way, and to compensate for that and increase his own sense of self-worth he committed himself to engaging in an act that he hoped would lead to his martyrdom. At least then his value would be recognized by someone. Maybe he wanted to die and that’s why he jumped out of the truck with what he hoped the NYPD would mistake for real firearms.

What kind of picture would that paint though? The heroic martyr, going into battle with the NYPD with a pellet gun and some paintballs. What a joke.

Sayfullo Saipov, the moron who was driving the truck, isn’t special because he attributed his nonsense to some dying political ideology in the Middle East. He isn’t a martyr. He’s a clown. And now, if he doesn’t die from the gunshot wound he received and deserved, he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail where, if there’s any justice in the world, his fellow inmates will work him over regularly for the rest of his life.